Leaving the Party
by John Linstrom
My mind this morning stung with carpet burn,
red but not matching in depth or sheen
the crabapple hung outside my window,
compact and dark, beetle-shelled.
After a moist night the chill day
half-encased it in thick glints, white frost,
so morning brought a bleeding moon.
We danced like satellites, I think, last night,
spinning, the Christmas lights in our glasses,
our bottles. We turned, our toes twisted
in socks in carpet, caught
glimpse of hair, sweatshirt sleeve,
glint of eye or painted nail. The record
skipping, popcorn bursting, fingertips
brushing fingertips, it made us woozy –
warm – sated – merry
Christmas – see the holly, smell the wine in me,
we’re both the mistletoe and needle-tree.
I wonder if the stars could say, clouded
as they were last night when I left
and there was no moon but your face
rising and your body waxing,
your thanks-for-coming to an event forever
ending, why we were so full.
Was the importance in a glance,
in a compact thank-you,
dark and beautiful, or in a million midair
under streetlights, like headlamps
under cloud cover, like something
other than us?
From your stoop this morning,
sipping bitter darkness in the sun,
you might remember
the silence of taillights,
lovely crawl of bodies,
intoxicating hum now stilled and hung
to collect the morning frost.
John Linstrom's poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Cold Mountain Review, Commonweal Magazine, Bridge Eight, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and Narrative Northeast's "Eco Issue." In 2015, Counterpoint Press published his centennial edition of Liberty Hyde Bailey’s eco-philosophical manifesto, The Holy Earth, with a new foreword by Wendell Berry. As coeditor, he now has a new anthology, The Liberty Hyde Bailey Gardener's Companion: Essential Writings, forthcoming from Cornell University Press. John lives with his fiancée in Queens, NY, where he is a doctoral candidate in English and American Literature at New York University. He also holds an MFA in Creative Writing and Environment from Iowa State University.